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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Islip, Oxfordshire/Fallowfield, Manchester
    Thanked 33 Times in 29 Posts

    Default Crookham Court School, Berkshire, July 2013

    Visited with Zotez, and many thanks to him for being a tour guide for me on this occasion. I was initially a bit hesitant about doing this one, with running the risk of travelling down there, only for our way in to be prevented by one plank of wood. Or for that matter, a watchful and angry caretaker to catch us and utter the dreaded 'none shall pass!' Talking of which, we were well aware of the neighbour/caretaker/groundskeeper living next door who has caught explorers in the past and called the police. Hardly surprising really, when Zotez's mum allegedly drove up the drive to the house and parked in his garden to drop him off! No wonder he's got a penchant for throwing a wobbly every time he sees someone turn up! Nevertheless, whilst the previous access point got barricaded from inside and out, we did find that another area had opened up in turn.

    Where do I start with this one? I have to be absolutely honest here, but I had pretty mixed feelings about this explore. From a point of view of an urban explorer, this one is a really brilliant explore; one of a very, very rare kind. Beautifully ornate throughout, with a real plethora of artifacts left for the explorer to look through. Pupil's classwork still left on desks, an intact library and chemistry lab, a wood-carved staircase complete with stained glass looking in, drama scripts still left lying around the stage area, it's very rare one can find places such interesting time warps nowadays. True, this place had been used as bedsits up until 2007 whilst the school owners sat on the site and pondered what the future plans for the site were to be, but it's quite astonishing when you consider when this place closed: 1988. 1988! That's 25 years, and the place is still in near original condition! Maybe a lot of this was under lock and key during that time, for it to have been kept this way?

    Obviously stuff has been moved around for photos, but it's still quite amazing really!

    The conservatory area (?). One or two of the rooms have been locked up since his visit, along with more boarded up windows from the inside; developers securing up the place, prior to renovation?

    The stage

    The 'isolation unit' (that's what I knew it as in school), for disobedient pupils

    I can't be sure, but judging by the pews stored at the back of the room, this room may have been the chapel

    The centrepiece of the building, the main hall

    Unfortunately, since this place hit the explorer's radar, the wood-carved fireplaces in both the main hall and the library have been stolen!

    The library, still complete with books and magazines.

    The staff room, or so I suspect.

    The infamous gilded mirror

    We went on to see the pupil's bedrooms on the top floor, but apart from a mural painted by a former tenant that I forgot to photograph, these were of little note. So, we moved on downstairs to have a look at the basement, but things were to take a funny turn... continued in next post.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Islip, Oxfordshire/Fallowfield, Manchester
    Thanked 33 Times in 29 Posts

    Default Re: Crookham Court School, Berkshire, July 2013

    We made our way downstairs to check out the basement, but for the first time in my exploring adventures, we bumped into Bitca and Gantry Steele, who knew we were upstairs yet we were completely oblivious to them being there! Now me being me, I got such a fright thinking they were security, much to GS's amusement. After a nice little chat with them, we moved on downstairs to the basement to check if there was anything of interest.

    Not really. The place looked like it was used as a gymnasium for the school, but other than the mural and pupil graffiti shown below, there wasn't much to see.

    So we got out, and went to check out the outbuildings. Though inevitably decayed after 25 years of disuse, the laboratory was decorated with the pupil's classwork, intact bottles of assorted chemicals, bunsen burners, the lot!

    Incredible really. In spite of all that's been said, however, there's a sense of dread that still hangs over the place when you think about it; the sexual and physical abuse of the pupils that occurred in its latter years. Despite having a far richer history than just being a boarding school run by paedophiles, the school had been used for the children of USAF personnel based at Greenham Common which is next door to the school amongst other things. Yet whenever you bring up Crookham to any Thatcham locals, their first thought is that of the prolonged abuse. Developers plan to renovate the place into flats, but if you ask Zotez for example, he says it should be demolished to erase the memories and stigma. But it's such a nice looking building, so it's difficult to say. One could say that all the Victorian asylums and workhouses should be demolished if you use that argument (undoubtedly patients were abused by staff over time), and we'd lose some of the most brilliant architecture of that era. I want to agree with Zotez, but I can't.

    An external to conclude.

    It seems peverse to say it, but it really is quite an amazing building, and one of the best sites i've seen.

    Love as always,

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